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Hudson tells students to put their lives in check
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Between sessions, a lingering opponent, Derrick Rawls, 16, tries in vain to defeat Hudson, who tells him “there is no such thing as failure, only information.” - photo by By Calli Arnold
South Effingham High School students got the new school year off on the right foot Monday with a visit from Orrin “Checkmate” Hudson of Be Someone who encouraged them set up for success by being problem-solvers.
“Most of the stuff I’m teaching young people … is that your position in life is as a problem solver and if you can solve problems, that’s how you get paid,” Hudson said. “The bigger the problem the more you get paid.”
Hudson has been working as a motivational speaker for youths for nearly 10 years. Growing up in Alabama, Hudson remembers stealing tires until a teacher taught him to play chess. He was a state trooper for seven years and founded Be Someone after hearing of an incident where seven Wendy’s employees were shot execution-style, five killed, in a crime that netted $2,000. 
“I’m teaching young people to stay focused and to go after that KASH with a K. 
If we can teach young people to go after that new currency, then everybody wins,” he said. “But killing people for money doesn’t work.”
In his acronym, “k” is for knowledge, “a” is for attitude, “s” is for skills and “h” is for habit, and he said that this is the currency people need to go after. He also discussed success in terms of value, saying that those who subtract and divide value end up in jail and those who add and multiply value, win.
He now uses the game of chess as a metaphor for life and a tool for young people to build analytic and strategic thinking. Although he was seeded very low, Hudson has won two world titles in the 5-Minute Blitz Chess Championship at the World Open International Chess Tournament, where games must be won in under five minutes.
“I’m teaching young people to think on their feet fast because you win or lose based on the decisions that you make,” Hudson said. “If you make the right moves, you get the right results.”
Hudson gave a number of presentations Monday, starting with an assembly for the entire freshman class. During the presentations he asks the students to repeat phrases such as “master disaster” and “be a problem solver.” 
He then met with student council members from SEHS and Effingham County High and the SEHS Chess Club to come up with a slogan for their buckle-up initiative. Inspired by the deaths of two ECHS students who weren’t wearing seatbelts during a car accident that killed them, the groups and Hudson came up with this slogan for the campaign: “Arrive Alive: You’re life won’t be too sweet if you don’t buckle to that seat.”
Throughout the day, Hudson met with 58 students in four small group sessions, where they each had a chance to win $50 if they beat Hudson in chess. Although none of the students could put Hudson in checkmate, Hudson encouraged them by saying that there’s no such thing as failure, just more information. 
So far, Checkmate Hudson has spoken to over 20,000 youths and his mission is 1 million. 
“So if you’re reading this story, you could be a part of changing the world one move at a time by bringing me in to help your kids,” Hudson said. “I want to make an appeal to the principals, superintendent, anyone, church members who can bring me in to help young people become productive citizens.”
SEHS social worker Erin Woodcock seized the opportunity to have students fill out surveys to determine which students to place in their Why Try intervention program, which tackles issues such self-esteem, discipline and attendance in the classroom.
Hudson ended the day with a “pep rally” for parents and teachers. 
For more information about Be Someone, go to and for more information about Why Try, go to